Conservation of Biodiversity and Enhancing Livelihood by the Meenangadi Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC), Kerala


Meenangadi in the high ranges of Wayanad District of Kerala, is a part of the Western Ghats- a biodiversity hotspot, with approximately 300 floral species that are endemic to Western Ghats such as Tephrosia wayanadensis, Hedyotis wayanadensis, Cynometra bourdillonii, Bulbophyllum rheedei etc. The panchayat has 19 wards spread across an area of 53.52 with approximately 9000 households. 80% of the community is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural ecosystems provide food, forage, bioenergy and medicines along with regulation of soil and water quality, carbon sequestration, support for biodiversity and cultural services.

Need for the Initiative

The State Action Plan on Climate Change (SAPCC) of Kerala has categorized Wayanad as one among the four climate change hotspots in Kerala, with a high degree of vulnerability to natural disasters such as, flood and drought. The area experiences frequent failure of monsoon. Assessments predict that the minimum surface temperature in the Western Ghats region may rise between 2o to 4.5o Celsius by 2050.

Conservation Initiatives and Impacts

In order to conserve the biological resources in the region while securing livelihoods for the local communities, the Meenangadi Grama Panchayath Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC) was constituted in the year 2012, with 8 members, including a chairperson, secretary and representation from women, in accordance with the mandates of the Biodiversity Act 2002. The Sarpanch of the Panchayat, who is also the BMC chairperson, aims for Meenangadi to become a ‘Carbon Neutral Gram Panchayat’ by the end of the year 2020. The community aims to achieve this by conserving and expanding its biodiversity and forest cover, reducing carbon emissions from household activities, influencing the transportation and industrial sectors to adopt sustainable mechanisms and green technology, reducing dependence on fossil fuel by switching to renewable energy, conserving its soil and water bodies, encouraging organic approach to cultivation and reducing and recycling its waste. The initiatives are supported by the State Government, an NGO- Thanal, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation’s Community Agro-biodiversity Centre and Kannur University’s department of zoology. The BMC has documented the local biodiversity along with associated traditional knowledge in the People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR), in line with the mandates of the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. It has recorded 72 varieties of rice, including 21 traditional varieties, many of which were no longer under cultivation. The BMC and the Panchayat encourage ‘Jaiva krishi’ (Organic farming) using traditional varieties of crops, tubers and native medicinal plants. The traditional rice varieties are being grown by 11 farmers across approximately 16 acres of agricultural land, traditional varieties of tubers are being cultivated across approximately 20 acres by 150 farmers and native medicinal plants are being cultivated across approximately 7 acres of farmland by 23 farmers. Individual seed banks are being maintained by the farmers, for the traditional rice varieties. Vegetable farming has received a big push with around 70 acres of land under cultivation. The BMC has facilitated tree plantation across 38 acres of land, including 450,000 coffee (Coffea) plants, 32,500 cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) trees, and over 20,000 other shade trees, comprising Azadirachta indica and coconut (Cocos nucifera). Conservation of rare species is carried out by planting trees across 15 acres of Manikavu Siva temple, with assistance from student associations such as the National Service Scheme and Biodiversity Club. The BMC has also introduced a ‘tree bank’ scheme that allows a farmer/owner to mortgage trees and repay the loan along with interest when selling the matured tree. The hardwood trees mostly comprise Mahogany (Swietenia) and Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) species. Post-2020, Meenangadi farmers are expecting to market their products with a carbon-neutral tag. The regular awareness campaigns against the use of plastic have encouraged people to carry eco-friendly bags for domestic purchases. The village crematorium, which once used wood, now runs on liquefied petroleum gas. The panchayat targets to set up a biodiversity park, initiate soil and water conservation works under MGNREGA. It aims to build small biogas plants in select households to construct a small solar park that will add power to the electricity grid.

Recognition in India Biodiversity Awards

The Meenangadi Gram Panchayat BMC received special mention in the India Biodiversity Award under the category ‘Best Biodiversity Management Committee’ in 2018.
Contact- Beena Vijayan Tel. 04936 247236 Email: